Female bishops: Big story or not? (updated)

TimesLondonOn one level, it is obvious that the Church of England’s decision to raise female priests to the episcopate is a big news story. I mean, click here for a Google News tour of the coverage and here for a regular Google collection. Or, if you wish, here’s the New York Times report.

There is, in fact, too much coverage to scan and critique in any fair manner. So let’s just look at one or two things in the London coverage via The Times. As you would expect, Ruth Gledhill’s report has lots of drama and details. Take a look at the top of the story:

The Church of England decided last night to consecrate women bishops, with minimum concessions to opponents and despite the threat of a mass exodus of traditionalist clergy.

After one of the most contentious debates faced by the Church’s General Synod, its members voted to allow the consecration of women bishops but rejected compromise proposals for new “super bishops”, who would have catered for the objectors. The decisions, after more than six hours of debate, led to extraordinary scenes at the University of York, with one bishop in tears as he spoke of being “ashamed” of the Church of England.

The Rt Rev Stephen Venner, Bishop of Dover, who is in favour of women bishops, said that the failure to agree to create “super bishops” meant that every opportunity to allow objectors to “flourish” within the Church had been turned down.

Once again, this is the same kind of church-within-a-church approach that many in North America are seeking as a way to wrestle with other issues, most obviously the ordination of noncelibate gays and lesbians who oppose the Anglican Communion’s current stand on the moral status of sex outside of a traditional definition of marriage. It should be noted that the left’s critique is accurate that this “super bishops” concept also requires major changes in centuries of traditions and doctrines. Both sides are proposing major changes, only on issues involving different levels of doctrine and biblical interpretation.

Gledhill also sums up the regional, national and even global implications — global as in Roman — of this action.

Catholic and evangelical bishops are also understood to have held secret talks in Rome to discuss how to proceed with unity talks once women are ordained, and what, if any, kind of recognition might be granted to Anglo-Catholics by Rome.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who urged generous provision for opponents, sat with his head in his hands as a proposal for “super bishops” for objectors to women bishops was defeated. The super bishops would have been an upgraded version of the “flying bishops” appointed to care for opponents of women priests.

The synod rejected the plan even though it had the backing of the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu. Under the new proposals to consecrate women, flying bishops will also disappear and parishes will no longer be able to opt into their care instead of that of their diocesan bishop.

Like I said, the key details are in the story and even more details are hidden in the oceans of digital ink Gledhill — again, there are other reporters doing the same thing — are spilling on this story in the form of blog postings. This is part of the entire “summer of schism” theme that is developing online (again and again).

The Telegraph offered this apocalyptic summation in a blog: “It’s the end of Anglo-Catholicism.” In the actual news story, the headline was just as overwhelming: “Church of England set to split over women bishops.”

It’s also clear that the Roman Catholic option story is now going to be huge, with reports that about 1,300 priests and bishops are planning to leave the Church of England over the issue of female bishops. Click here for the actual document on that threat.

Meanwhile, the Vatican Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, to no one’s surprise, had this to say:

We have regretfully learned of the Church of England vote to pave the way for the introduction of legislation which will lead to the ordaining of women to the Episcopacy. The Catholic position on the issue was clearly expressed by Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II. Such a decision signifies a breaking away from the apostolic tradition maintained by all of the Churches since the first millennium, and therefore is a further obstacle for the reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Church of England.

This decision will have consequences on the future of dialogue, which had up until now born fruit, as Cardinal Kasper had clearly explained when he spoke on June 5 2006 to all of the bishops of the Church of England at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

But I was struck by another quote, far down in the Gledhill weblog, a quote that actually gets at the heart of the various Anglican disputes this summer and, thus, at a theme that should be important to the news coverage itself. This is a clip from the reporter’s notes, posted online:

Moving at last to debate the final motion, Alan Hargrave pleaded that none would leave the Church and said that staying in the Church was the ‘test of a true Anglican.’

Stephen Venner, Bishop of Dover, said: ‘I have to say that for the first time in my life I feel ashamed. We have talked for hours about wanting to give an honourable place for those who disagreed. We have turned down almost every opportunity for those opposed to flourish. And we still talk the talk of being inclusive and generous. The Rochester report said in many many pages that there were a variety of ways in which scripture and reason could be read with integrity.’

Pope Rowan gift presentation P3 1 Note the connection of two different realities. On one side, people argue that the ultimate doctrinal test of whether one is an Anglican is whether one elects to stay in the church. Period.

Meanwhile, others argue in official reports that there must be two (or more) different ways to read the relevant scriptures, doctrines and traditions within the same Communion. The doctrines do not unite. Only the name of the church provides unity and an agreement that there are no set doctrines on these matters — for now. But the liturgical actions of the structure will change (an ordination is an ordination, a consecration is a consecration) which means that the ultimate decision will be whether one can live, doctrinally, with the changed Communion or the creation of some new option that clashes with Canterbury.

Again, this is so complex, if reporters are going to try to cover the viewpoints of those on both sides of these issues. Note, for example, that there are evangelicals who accept the ordination of women and those who do not. There are also people on the theological left who enthusiastically claim the Anglo-Catholic mantle on issues of worship. So the fault lines are in different places for different people.

But there is one other reality to consider: Look at the screen shot of the Times front page for today, at the top of this post. You’ve got soccer, of course, and Madonna’s love life and other sex scandals. There’s the state of the economy.

But where is this historic decision by the Church of England? The story did not make the front page until (wait for it) the Vatican reaction.

So there is the other side of the story. The wars in the global Anglican Communion are, ultimately, about decisions that will be made in the Church of England. But is the Church of England big enough, these days, to make page one in England? Strange.

UPDATE: Interesting email in from Ruth Gledhill, offering some insights into how British papers view the U.S. and this new global WWW news cycle that we are all in. This has been edited a bit to flesh out some IM-style chat.

I think the reason it wasn’t page one earlier was simply due to different staff on night and day desk. Also this morning they realised better the global interest and thus gave story better show. Online is edited as much with you guys over there in mind and we often think here, perhaps, that the US is not interested in the Church of England.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Brian Walden

    I, like the Anglican Bishop of Dover, am struck by how un-Anglican this decision is (or at least how un-Anglican it seems to an outsider). I was expecting to see some sort of situation similar to the flying bishops in an attempt to maintain communion. For me the Church of England represents the “big tent” style of Christianity, focusing on unity in identity rather than unity in a single set of beliefs. It seems like the C of E has decided to make the tent a little smaller by not providing some sort of exemption for those who disagree with women bishops. Will this signify a larger trend in other “big tent” denominations? I hope that the media will focus in on this issue in the coming days.

    Schism appears imminent now. It’s probably historically the most feared thing in all of Christianity (although today it seems to happen quite frequently). May God find a way to bring good out of this situation.

  • Jerry

    Schism appears imminent now. It’s probably historically the most feared thing in all of Christianity (although today it seems to happen quite frequently).

    Not just today but schism has been happening quite frequently since 1517, almost 500 years ago!

    May God find a way to bring good out of this situation.

    Amen.

  • Thomas

    Certain issues can’t be handled on an “agree to disagree” basis. If certain dioceses allowed women bishops and others did not (a situation the Episcopal Church faced years ago, and still does today), will such women be welcomed with full ecclesiastical rights elsewhere?

    Probably not. Plus, those who oppose them are on shaky ground, morally, theologically, and intellectually.

    Sometimes, one has to play one’s hand.

  • Martha

    Women bishops are the logical result of women priests. After all, if as a ‘justice issue’, you agree to ordain women as priests, then you can’t restrict their role to “yes, women as well as men may be priests but only men may be bishops”, since that is indeed perpetuating discrimination – indeed, officially creating it where it did not exist before.

    Either only men may be ordained, or if women may be ordained, then women may be consecrated. A ‘two-tier’ priesthood is not going to satisfy anyone.

    That being said, this is not an agree-to-disagree matter. If you don’t accept that women may be bishops, then a priest (male or female) ordained by that bishop is not validly ordained. Therefore that priest cannot perform the spiritual duties – officiate at weddings, the Lord’s Supper, and so on (except baptism – layfolk can baptise). This is a big deal – what do you do if a priest ordained by a woman bishop is sent to your parish?

    This decision affects every part of ecclesiology – the nature of the priesthood, what are sacraments, apostolic succesion, and so on and so forth.

    Frankly, (speaking as an outsider), I never thought the Church of England compromise was much more than a politically-imposed pacification from without. As regards theology, I thought the fudge wasn’t worth the sweet-wrappers it came in. Well, this decision makes things clear at least.

  • rw

    Jerry says:
    “schism has been happening quite frequently since 1517″

    Then there was that really great schism in 1054, and don’t get me started on the Novationists and the Donatists.

    It reminds me of 1 Corinthians, chapter one (“Each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos,’ and ‘I of Cephas,’ and ‘I of Christ’ …)

  • Brian Walden

    …will such women be welcomed with full ecclesiastical rights elsewhere?

    Probably not. Plus, those who oppose them are on shaky ground, morally, theologically, and intellectually.

    I would assume that from an Anglican perspective those who support an all-male college of bishops aren’t on any shakier ground than those who support female bishops.

    What exactly do you mean by full ecclesiastical rights? Don’t bishops only have full ecclesiastical rights within their diocese?

    Lastly can someone fill me in on something that just popped into my head. Doesn’t the Episcopal Church already have women bishops? And isn’t the Episcopal Church a part of the Anglican Communion? So don’t the Anglicans already have women bishops? Which part have I got wrong?

  • Brian

    “Schism appears imminent now. It’s probably historically the most feared thing in all of Christianity”

    Really? Seems like the main issue in all the Anglican/Episcopal (I apologize if my terminology isn’t quite right) fights of recent decades is that some crazy folks actually think that heresy is worse than schism…

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    THE (American) PRESS JUST DOESN’T GET THE UK.

    In the NYT, John F. Burns attributes to vote to “the governing body of the Anglican Church in Britain”, and follows it with repeated references to “the British church” and the threat of “schism in Britain”. The Scottish Episcopal Church (formerly Episcopal Church in Scotland) and the Church in Wales will be … interested to know that they are “governed” by the English General Synod. F.E. Smith must be turning in his grave.

    The question is whether Burns is just ignorant, or thinks he is being politically correct, while accomplishing just the opposite, by avoiding the E name.

  • FW Ken

    Actually, individuals and groups have been leaving the Church since the first century. The first few Christian centuries saw careful record keeping within each local diocese as to with whom they were and were not in Communion.

    But the interesting point is something noted before on this site, that being the disproportional media attention to matters Anglican. The Episcopal Church is some less than 1% of the U.S. population and is losing members at the rate of about 2% annually. That’s up from a rate of .5% in the decade after they began ordaining women. They are minuscule compared to most other protestant denominations, including some groups we usually consider “sects”. Numbers aren’t conclusive, of course, but they do raise the question as to the role of the Episcopal Church (and the Church of England across the pond) as surrogates – props, if you will – in the larger cultural conflict of our times.

  • Brian Walden

    Brian, I think we’re both right. There’s a saying that goes something like every schism is caused by a Bishop teaching heresy. Look at The Catholic and Orthodox Churches, they’re so close and yet for 1,000 years they’ve been unable to reconcile the split. I think it’s easier to resolve heresy before schism than afterwards.

    If the C of E ordains women bishops with no exception for the significant faction of believers who object, it will pretty much forcing schism where the Anglican communion has always seemed to be about allowing a plurality of beliefs under the unifying name of Anglicanism. The Anglicans are unique in that they’re the the only church I know of that has maintained an episcopal structure (ignoring questions of validity for now) without emphasizing a unity of belief. This decision is a blow to the very thing that unites the worldwide Anglican churches and gives them a common identity – it could lead to even more division in the future. At least that’s what I see as an outsider looking in.

    I find this angle much more interesting than the question of whether or not a woman can be an Anglican Bishop. I hope this big picture gets attention in the media. Although, I would also love to see a story explaining the theological reasons for why both sides feel the way they do about ordaining women – but I don’t expect to see that from the mass media.

  • Thomas

    @Brian Walden:

    Lastly can someone fill me in on something that just popped into my head. Doesn’t the Episcopal Church already have women bishops? And isn’t the Episcopal Church a part of the Anglican Communion? So don’t the Anglicans already have women bishops? Which part have I got wrong?

    None of it, though our church polity can be a little byzantine.

    The ECUSA does have women bishops – it’s run by one. I suppose that plays a role in this debate.
    It’s one thing to say that women shouldn’t be bishops. It’s quite another to tell a Presiding Bishop “I don’t accept your consecration.”

    You ask:

    What exactly do you mean by full ecclesiastical rights? Don’t bishops only have full ecclesiastical rights within their diocese?

    Not usually. Bishops are invited to say mass in other dioceses, or perform weddings. I can’t see the old boys network allowing either, which could become problematic.

    The Episcopal Church is some less than 1% of the U.S. population and is losing members at the rate of about 2% annually.

    I’m not questioning your stats, but my cathedral in an NYC ‘burb is packed to the rafters every Sunday, even during the summer camp/Hamptons/boating season. We receive an average of 7 to 10 individuals into the church on a quarterly basis.

    We must be doing something right. I’ll have to ask one of our women preists what it is. ;)

  • FW Ken

    In 1976, the Episcopal Church was about 3.4 million souls out of 180 million Americans. That 1.89%. From

    TEC stats for 2005,, it’s 2.2 million out of 300 million. I make that .73% of the population. Actually, I’m aware that TEC lost 55000 members in either ’06 or ’07, so that 2.2 million is probably a 100,000 or so too high.

    Statistics lose meaning as their base gets smaller. An individual parish with a specific identity will tend to grow, attracting a sympathetic clientele. All Saints,Pasadena and Glide Memorial Methodist in San Francisco, and St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Minneapolis are good examples on the liberal side, as was my first Catholic parish, in the Oak Lawn area of Dallas. A particularly charismatic minister will grow a parish, of course, and his/her moving on will lead to decline. A decline in membership may also occur when a parish sends out members to found a new parish. And, of course, when Jesus spoke of the Eucharist in John 6, we find the people deserting Him.

    Hence my comment that numbers are not conclusive. However, TEC has gone through a 30+ systemtic decline (it’s mostly attrition, separate from the splits in 1976 and today). The Church of England has endured a similar decline: by some reports, more Catholics and Muslims worship weekly than Britain than Anglicans. The very modernist English Catholics, have, btw, declined in Mass attendance by about a third in recent years, as well. By some accounts, it’s only the immigrants (Poles, mainly) keeping from a total disaster.

  • Julia

    Martha said:

    As regards theology, I thought the fudge wasn’t worth the sweet-wrappers it came in.

    Ruth Gledhill also uses “making fudge” and the like to describe what’s going on in the C of E.

    What exactly, does “fudge” mean in that context?

  • FW Ken

    I meant to say that the decline isn’t completely tied the “liberal/conservative” model of explanation. Relatively conservative diocese (Dallas, for example) are maintaining their numbers, but that represents a decline as a percentage of the growing population of the Dallas area. Fort Worth and Quincy are in the same boat. In 2006, I think it was, exactly one diocese – South Caroline – showed growth as a percentage of the population. It’s also true that many liberal dioceses are collapsing.

    And yes, I like stats, and the Episcopal Church has some of the most accessible. I don’t have the link here, but they have both line charts and data tables online which provide excellent comparative data.

  • Dave

    FW Ken (#13),

    TEC has gone through a 30+ systemtic decline

    A 30+ year decline?

    The very modernist English Catholics, have, btw, declined in Mass attendance by about a third in recent years, as well. By some accounts, it’s only the immigrants (Poles, mainly) keeping from a total disaster.

    I understand something parallel is happening with Catholicism in the USA, with (mostly Hispanic) immigration keeping the numbers up. Y/N?

  • Margaret

    Being a former Anglican, I continue to thank God for clarity! This decision makes for less “guesswork” and people actually know what they’re looking at when they look at the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.
    (And I pray that God blesses this website, too!)

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  • Thomas

    I love how all the people citing attendance statistics (which are surely better kept today than yesteryear) are conflating this move and others with the policy changes.

    Our entire culture is less religious now than it was 30 years ago. Correlation does not equal causation.

    In any case, it’s also possible that the more inclusive parts of the church will win new converts… because they will actually be fully included.

  • FW Ken

    Dave -

    The Episcopal Church began a decline in the mid-70s which continues today. That’s 30+ years by my calculator. I used the word “systemic” (and mis-typed it) because the decline occurs broadly throughout the organization. Details in comment #12.

    I think you are right, Dave, about the hispanic and the Catholic Church in the U.S. At least, I have read that. I haven’t found a source of Catholic stats online comparable to those of the Episcopal Church.

  • FW Ken

    Who’s correlating policy and numbers, at least in the Anglican context? I’m the only one citing stats and I said, specifically,

    the decline isn’t completely tied the “liberal/conservative” model of explanation.

    as well as

    Numbers aren’t conclusive, of course,

    Sorry you don’t like the numbers, Thomas, but they are from your own church. If you want to deny that modernist theology is killing your church, knock yourself out. I’ve not made the claim that it is.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    Thomas may also want to check out this classic from early in this era, by a leader from a well-known rightist organization — the National Council of Churches.

    http://www.amazon.com/WHY-CONSERVATIVE-CHURCHES-GROWING-Rose/dp/0865542244/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1215559534&sr=8-1

  • Thomas

    @Ken

    Sorry you don’t like the numbers, Thomas, but they are from your own church. If you want to deny that modernist theology is killing your church, knock yourself out. I’ve not made the claim that it is.

    Except, of course, that you did by implication, which causes your after-the-fact denials ring hollow. … I really don’t care about numbers, because religion is deeply personal and isn’t a numbers game, as so many seem to think it is. After all, “There’s lots of us, so we must be right!” is the most shallow theological argument ever heard. My own parish and diocese aren’t going anywhere – we’re too active in our community, well-funded, and parish outreach is working wonders towards bringing more in.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    OK folks…. Quote factual sources that journalists can use and stop spouting your opinions.

    Quote people with names and organizations that tell us where they are coming from. Stop yelling.

    Spiking and editing away.

  • FW Ken

    Thomas,

    Since you insist I am saying the exact opposite of what I have actually written, it’s obvious that talking to you is a waste of time. You have already made clear your disdain for those who disagree with you, and now it’s clear you lack the fundamental integrity for conversation. You can’t twist people’s words and be taken seriously.

  • Claude

    Thomas, your sentiments are mine exactly.

    It would be a disaster for the Anglican Communion were the Episcopal Church marginalized, but it would have little effect on the daily work of the Episcopal Church itself.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    CLAUDE:

    And the media implications of your comment?

    Back to the topic, please.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    Say good-night, Thomas.

    Please visit soon with statistics, sources and URLs.

    All churches are facing tougher times and, in many or most cases, some declining stats. The evangelicals are not crowing right now, other than in individual congregations (some of which are in mainline churches, of course).

    But the rapid decline of the Seven Sister of the Mainline is one of the dominant news trends of the late 20th Century, covered by media on the left and right. The scene is getting more and more complex, but that is a solid reality.

    Trace this link back to the latest Pew Forum data….

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23337807/

    Now, if you want to fight fair, head over to Louie Crew’s site and prepare to argue that WORSHIP stats in the Episcopal context have not fallen that much and that in some regions they may have improved.

    Perhaps you can help me find a statistic that I keep hearing, but can’t find a source: What is the percentage of TEC parishes that have about 100 or fewer active members?

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    How not to write a comment to GetReligion, by way of Thomas:

    Good night, bigot. I will not visit with data sources; it isn’t Do A Bigot’s Homework Day.

    I suggest that you get out a little more instead of selectively relying on only the poll data that supports your foregone conclusions.

    I’m content to wait until you die wrong.

    Folks, let me stress that I urged him to find material and quotable sources from left and right, only to use names and URLs that can be read and critiqued. Louie Crew and his site at Rutgers would be a great example.

    http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/data.html

    Pew Forum is hardly a conservative group and ditto for the National Council of Churches yearbooks.

    The goal is for more reporters to be quoting a wide variety of sources from people on both sides of the church aisles. In recent years, sociologists of religion — think Christian Smith of UNC Chapel Hill and now Notre Dame — have been especially valuable.

    The goal here, again, is to talk about journalism and mainstream media coverage of religion. Focus on that.

  • FW Ken

    tmatt –

    My apologies for going off on stats, although if you want sources, here are the ones I use:

    The collection of TEC research documents to 2006. The Episcopalians really have great stats, but they tend to be slow getting them together. 2007 is still unavailable.

    The chart program that illlustrates the stats at the previous link.

    Catholic stats Not nearly as detailed as the Episcopalians, but well maintained. They had my new bishop showing in a couple of days after his installation.

    You ask about small episcopal parishes and a google search brought me back to GetReligion. Karen B, citing an Episcopal Church research paper archived at Louie Crew’s site, says that 58.9% of Episcopalian parishes have an average (median) average Sunday attendance of 100 or less. That would be about 4400 parishes, if there are 7400 total.

    You actually asked about active membership, which is a number between ASA and registered membership. I couldn’t find that number, nor a conversion factor to derive it from ASA.

    Final note: Dr. Crew has a lot of interesting stats, but some of them don’t match official TEC research numbers.

  • Dave2

    FW Ken: Dave’s comment (the other Dave!) was a response to your accidentally leaving out the word ‘year’. The italics were intended to point out the word that was missing, not to register incredulity.

  • FW Ken

    Thanks, Dave2. I didn’t see it, as I was writing at work on a fragmentary lunch break (lots of interruptions). Still, it takes talent to make the same mistake twice, wouldn’t you say. :-)

  • Claude

    tmatt, you cut off the portion of my posting relative to media. I said that the overblown headlines of “heresy” and “schism” are simply tools by the sensationalist media and traditionalists to frighten folks, but that they do not frighten me.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    Claude:

    Well, that’s your opinion and you are free to voice it at a wide variety of opinion sites. You are saying that the mainstream coverage on this subject has erred on the side of the views and information of traditional Anglicans?

    Yes, folks, I am trying to edit comments away from pure opinion and toward comments on the actual content of the press coverage. Again, things like real quotes from articles and URLs to information of interest to journalists.

  • http://onlinefaith.blogspot.com C. Wingate

    It is possible to extract an active members number from the red book, not that it really matters.

    I haven’t read all the coverage– there isn’t time– but the details posted here have the decided virtue of sketching out some of the other divisions in the communion besides “conservative” vs. “liberal”.

  • http://aconservativesiteforpeace.info The young fogey

    It is big in England for the few churchgoers there. About 15 per cent of practising C of E people are Anglo-Catholic. The only sensible thing for them to do now is convert as Bishop Burnham rightly says. A blow to a church already sidelined in that very secular country (where its news doesn’t even make the front page).

    (Most English ACs are Anglo-Papalists, RCs in all but name, so of course they’ll go to Rome. Non-Anglo-Papalist ACs can re-tool and go Orthodox as some before them have done since the early 1990s.)

    A long time ago there I met somebody who was at one of the Anglo-Catholic Congresses 70 or 80 years ago, when a good number in the C of E dared to dream of corporate reunion with the Catholic churches.

    I imagine a few will remain in the spirit of ‘if the Church of England fails it still will be found in my parish’ (Keble) but they will only be scattered parishes of ‘ritualist congregationalists’, which has already happened to ACs in the Episcopal Church. (Very different from the ecclesiological sensibilities and hopes of the Oxford Movement.)

    But no, to larger society it’s not big news.

    In America it’s something for the liberal Protestants to crow about, nothing more.

    The Third World conservative-Protestant revolt over homosexuality is big in world news but doesn’t really affect the First World so most people there don’t care.

    Americans aren’t interested in the C of E. Few know or care what the Anglican Communion is.

    And as I’ve been saying for about eight months, whichever way the Anglican soap opera ends it won’t affect the Episcopalians in any real way (whether they’re kicked out of the Anglican Communion or not).

    Secular society has passed mainline Protestantism by and is no longer interested in it.

    It’s my understanding that yes, the RC Church in England is being kept afloat by Polish immigration as the liberalised English and Irish no longer attend (it used to be very immigrant Irish)… much like Latin-American immigration does for the RCs in the States. (Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone has a pierogi party as part of his last campaign!)

  • FW Ken

    C. Wingate -

    It is possible to extract an active members number from the red book, not that it really matters.

    You sir, are the bomb (as the kids say). You are right, of course, that it doesn’t really matter, but for a stats addict like myself, it fresh meat. Thank you.

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